Vestas Wins $1.5 Million Clean Energy Award, Immediately Gives it All Away

The event drawing the most buzz on day two of the World Future Energy Summit was certainly the Zayed Future Energy Prize award ceremony. The show was held at the preposterously opulent Emirates Palace -- rumor has it that it's the 2nd most expensive building ever built (whatever that means) -- and featured speeches from luminaries like Rajendra Pachouri. This year, the $1.5 million prize was awarded to the Danish wind power company Vestas -- and Vestas immediately proceeded to give it all away. Company CEO Ditlev Engel took the stage after receiving the award, and wasted no time in donating the whole sum to a variety of sustainable causes. $750,000, the first half of the award, would be given to a brand new NGO that Vestas is helping to launch called WindMade. The nonprofit group will act as a sort of quality stamp for wind power products, and will help create consumer confidence in the market.

The second half was to be split between each of the other top finalists in the running for the Zayed prize -- $250,000 will be given to First Solar, an American solar power company, Bunker Roy, the director of Barefoot College (the "only fully solar electrified college in India", which trains women to join the clean energy workforce), and Terry Tamminen, the CEO of 7th Generation Advisors, a renewable energy firm in California.

The Zayed award is something of a curious beast: this is only the third time that the award has been given out, and the previous two winners were a Bangladeshi man who started a movement training women who live in rural areas to install solar panels -- and Toyota, the biggest car company in the world. Nonetheless, it's nice to see some recognition given to what are arguably some of the most successful green projects in the world.

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